One of my newest clients just told me she’s been jumping from task to task like a pinball machine. What a great image. What a horrible feeling!

Wouldn’t it be nice if each day we could work on only our highest-priority activities?  By end of each week, we’d finish all our key projects! But unexpected-yet-important distractions inevitably get in the way.

Here at connect2 we recently collected time management experts’ top ten tips. Try one, some, or all of these to release some of that pressure you’ve been feeling.

  1. Make a plan.  What do you want to accomplish in the next year? Break that down by quarter.  Break down this quarter’s plan by month. Break down this month’s plan by week. Break down this week’s plan by day. Estimate your time investment to ensure it’s all doable. Now you have this week’s agenda.
  2. Lower the volume on your inner and outer critics’ voices. It’s inevitable that others will question your goals and choices.  Yet this is your one precious life.  Set your own criteria for success.  You can choose to believe you will prosper by leading a purposeful, passionate life in joyful alignment with your priorities. You likely became an entrepreneur so you could drive your own destiny.  Rather than work to other people’s demands, do what your heart knows is most important.
  3. Revise your priorities every day.  At the end of each day, or first thing in the morning, look at your planned tasks and prioritize them. Tomorrow you will know more than you know today, so adjust your expectations tomorrow accordingly while keeping your plan in mind.
  4. Delegate.  If you have no employees, get a virtual assistant.  If you hate hanging out on LinkedIn, hire a social media manager.  Do not do work that others can do as well as you.  Freeing yourself from your busywork will enable you to provide better client service as well as work on your business rather than merely in your business.
  5. Just say “no” or “not now” to urgent requests.  It might be great to be Super-BusinessWoman (cue the theme music!). But you aren’t (because you are a mere mortal), and you don’t have to be, especially at the expense of your health, prosperity, and loved ones.  Each of us has only 168 hours per week.  Saying “yes” to our top priorities necessitates saying “no” to other opportunities. So saying “no” is a practice each of us chronic overachievers must cultivate consistently.  Warning: declining to get involved may reduce your stress, save you from letting people down, and increase your sense of well-being.  (If you truly want to take on a last-minute project, add a rush fee to signal to your clients the value of planning ahead.)
  6. Don’t answer every phone call.  Just because the phone rings doesn’t mean you have to pick it up.  Screen your calls so you can stay focused on your plan for today.
  7. Close your email inbox.  Emails come flying in and you could spend every minute of every day dealing with them. Set specific windows each day for checking your email, and set up rules to filter and organize them automatically into folders, including junk.  Be sure not to put the connect2 ezine into your junk folder.  🙂
  8. Release your inner perfectionist.  My motto lately is “progress not perfection.” Eighty percent of the value likely lies in 20% of your effort. Accordingly, this blog post may contain typos and formatting problems.
  9. Learn from your mistakes. Mistakes are inevitable. Learn from them and move toward achieving your vision.
  10. Build in regular time for relaxation. In addition to setting aside personal time for exercise, sleep, and quality time with loved ones, allow yourself time to unwind on a regular basis. Step away from your computers and handheld devices to do anything that nurtures your soul.  The endless possibilities include napping, reading a novel, seeing a friend and painting your toenails.  These basics can easily fall to the wayside when we’re absorbed with work.  I resisted this lesson too long.

Already practice these and still feel stressed?  I’ve been right there with you!  So tune in next week when I share my attempt to take all this to a brand new level for us twenty-first century entrepreneurs and leaders.

What’s your favorite time management tip?  Please comment below so we can all benefit!